For centuries, human beings have looked at the night sky, hoping to see aliens.

Now, a group of scientists is trying to find out where aliens would have to be in order to see us.

Researchers from universities in the U.K. and Germany have identified nine planets that are "ideally placed" for their resident astronomers to detect Earth using the same methods Earth stargazers use to detect them, according to a new paper published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.


The astronomers looked for planets on which observers could view Earth's transit across the sun — the period where, from their perspective, our planet moves in front of its home star, causing it to dim slightly.

An illustration of where an extraterrestrial observer would have to be to notice one of the planets in our solar system passing in front of the sun. Image by 2MASS/A. Mellinger/R. Wells.

The study builds on the work of astrophysicist Rene Heller, who proposed the idea that intelligent extraterrestrial life located in these "transit visibility zones" might already know about Earth in a paper published last year in the journal Astrobiology.

"We've expanded on this by including all of the solar system planets and looking at the known and expected exoplanets in these regions," study lead author Robert Wells, a Queen's University Belfast Ph.D. student, says.

The work was made possible by the revival of the Kepler space telescope, which malfunctioned and was nearly left for dead in 2013.

Instead, engineers used sunlight pressure to stabilize the stellar eye later that year. It has since discovered more than 500 exoplanets — joining the more than 2,300 total detected in the telescope's eight-year run.

A digital illustration of a gas giant planet and moon discovered by Kepler. Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt via Getty Images.

The next challenge? Finding where ET might actually be listening for that call.

None of the planets identified in the paper have the conditions to support life. The researchers expect to discover more worlds in the prime Earth-viewing zone in the coming months.

"Our hope is to find some planets which are potentially habitable and can see transits of Earth, which I think will be the best targets for SETI," Wells says.

Here's hoping when do we track our galactic neighbors down, they're not the kind we need Will Smith to deal with.

(Thankfully, we have Will Smith — just in case.)

Photo by Picsea on Unsplash
True

It is said that once you've seen something, you can't unsee it. This is exactly what is happening in America right now. We have collectively watched the pot of racial tension boil over after years of looking the other way, insisting that hot water doesn't exist, pretending not to notice the smoke billowing out from every direction.

Ignoring a problem doesn't make it go away—it prolongs resolution. There's a whole lot of harm to be remedied and damage to be repaired as a result of racial injustice, and it's up to all of us to figure out how to do that. Parents, in particular, are recognizing the importance of raising anti-racist children; if we are unable to completely eradicate racism, maybe the next generation will.

How can parents ensure that the next generation will actively refuse to perpetuate systems and behaviors embedded in racism? The most obvious answer is to model it. Take for example, professional tennis player Serena Williams and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

Keep Reading Show less

Former President George W. Bush and current president Donald Trump may both be Republicans but they have contrasting views when it comes to immigration.

Trump has been one of the most anti-immigrant presidents of recent memory. His Administration separated undocumented families at the border, placed bans on travelers from majority-Muslim countries, and he's proudly proclaimed, "Our country is full."

George W. Bush's legacy on immigration is a bit more nuanced. He ended catch-and-release and called for heightened security at the U.S.-Mexico border, but he also championed an immigration bill that created a guest worker program and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people.

Unfortunately, that bill did not pass.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Picsea on Unsplash
True

It is said that once you've seen something, you can't unsee it. This is exactly what is happening in America right now. We have collectively watched the pot of racial tension boil over after years of looking the other way, insisting that hot water doesn't exist, pretending not to notice the smoke billowing out from every direction.

Ignoring a problem doesn't make it go away—it prolongs resolution. There's a whole lot of harm to be remedied and damage to be repaired as a result of racial injustice, and it's up to all of us to figure out how to do that. Parents, in particular, are recognizing the importance of raising anti-racist children; if we are unable to completely eradicate racism, maybe the next generation will.

How can parents ensure that the next generation will actively refuse to perpetuate systems and behaviors embedded in racism? The most obvious answer is to model it. Take for example, professional tennis player Serena Williams and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

Keep Reading Show less

I saw this poster today and I was going to just let it go, but then I kept feeling tugged to say something.

Melanie Cholish/Facebook

While this poster is great to bring attention to the issue of child trafficking, it is a "shocking" picture of a young girl tied up. It has that dark gritty feeling. I picture her in a basement tied to a dripping pipe.

While that sounds awful, it's important to know that trafficking children in the US is not all of that. I can't say it never is—I don't know. What I do know is most young trafficked children aren't sitting in a basement tied up. They have families, and someone—usually in their family—is trafficking them.

Keep Reading Show less

Roland Pollard and his 4-year-old daughter Jayden have been doing cheer and tumbling stunts together since Jayden could walk. When you see videos of their skills, the level of commitment is apparent—as is the supportive relationship this daddy has with his daughter.

Pollard, a former competitive cheerleader and cheer coach, told In The Know that he didn't expect Jayden to catch on to her flying skills at age 3, but she did. He said he never pressures her to perform stunts and that she enjoys it. And as a viral video of Jayden almost falling during a stunt shows, excelling at a skill requires good teaching—something Pollard appears to have mastered.

Keep Reading Show less